Christmas markets: is Geneva or Zurich side best?

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3 posts
new member
Jun 15, 2019 - 1:22 PM

Hi, I know I am posting early since Christmas is a long ways away! We are trying to plan a long weekend in Switzerland to visit Christmas markets, before we head to my in-laws in ireland for the holidays in December. I’ve gone a few times before, all on the Zurich side of CH, but my husband has never been and we’ll now have an 8-month old in tow. We will have about 3-4 days and don’t want to do super lengthy train trips each day Bc of Baby.

I’m torn between exploring the Geneva side of the markets (namely Montreux’s Noel market, have never been and always wanted to go) but it seems like the Zurich side is “better” in terms of markets and surrounding towns (Lucerne, Bern, Basel, etc). How are the Christmas markets on the Geneva side, is it worth sticking in that area for the Montreux market alone and Geneva, or should we base ourselves in Zurich or Lucerne instead and explore to the German side?

thanks in advance!

663 posts
top member
Jun 15, 2019 - 3:12 PM in reply to kymcclay

Hi kymcclay,

I am from Geneva, but I would not recommend Geneva for its Christmas Market in Bastions Park or Quai Général-Guisan. It is a fairly new event, has no old tradition (to bew honest, I don't think any of the Xmas markets in Switzerland date back to the Middle Ages like the one in Strasburg, France). Shopholders at the Geneva Market come from elsewhere, well it's your decision but now you have been warned.

I don't know the other Chrismas Markets in Switzerland, there was none in Zurich when I used to live there in the 1980s.

Oh, there is one traditional market, that's the Onion Market in Bern (Zibelemärit), this year it will be on 29 November. Too early for you, maybe.

In Carouge, which I may refer to as Geneva's Greenwich Village, there will be a Cristmas market under a new concept, on December 13-15. It's too early to describe what it will be about.

6025 posts
expert &
Jun 15, 2019 - 5:30 PM in reply to kymcclay

Hi kymcclay!

Unfortunately I can't advise from a personal perspective, but I can reccomend the excellent trip reports of our forum member Maggie that may help you compare the options: topic/maggies-december-trip-report. Hopefully that helps you to choose, along with Snowman's reccomendations.

You can also study the overview at topic/activities/chris tmasmarkets.

2105 posts
top member
Jun 16, 2019 - 11:16 PM

There is a good Christmas market in Basel

886 posts
top member
Jun 18, 2019 - 3:31 AM

Snowman has mentioned the Zibelemärit in Berne. I just wanted to point out that Berne is closer to Montreux than it is to Zürich.

I was looking at a list of what are supposedly the 20 best Christmas markets in Europe, and the only Swiss one that made it onto the list is Basel, in position number 15, probably because of its proximity to the influence of France and ever more so Germany, which had 3 and 6 cities respectively in the top 20. These were Strasbourg (3), Montbéliard (11) and Metz (12) in France, and Erfurt (5), Aachen (8), Köln (16) and Nuremberg (17) in Germany. Furthermore, it comes as no surprise to me that the three in France are all in the northern part of the country, all pretty close to Germany (especially Strasbourg). If you are curious about where the others in the top 20 are located, here is my reference: www.europeanbestdestin You might get a few surprises !

Last modified on Jun 18, 2019 - 3:35 AM by Peterli

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